Looting King Solomon’s Mines
May 31, 2011
So we have Source of the Nile rules supplements for finding Lost Civilizations and Dr. Livingstone. Next up are King Solomon’s Mines. The basic idea behind this supplement is that, yes, the explorer can become fabulously rich by looting the mines, but the trick it to get as many men safely into and out of the treasure chamber.
If the expedition has hired a guide from a native tribe within three hex distance from the Mines, then GAGOOL is present.
(passages in italics are from H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines)
There, upon huge pedestals of dark rock, sculptured with rude emblems of the Phallic worship, separated from each other by a distance of forty paces, and looking down the road which crossed some sixty miles of plain to Loo, were three colossal seated forms—two male and one female—each measuring about thirty feet from the crown of its head to the pedestal.
Let the reader picture to himself the hall of the vastest cathedral he ever stood in, windowless indeed, but dimly lighted from above, presumably by shafts connected with the outer air and driven in the roof, which arched away a hundred feet above our heads, and he will get some idea of the size of the enormous cave in which we found ourselves, with the difference that this cathedral designed by nature was loftier and wider than any built by man. But its stupendous size was the least of the wonders of the place, for running in rows adown its length were gigantic pillars of what looked like ice, but were, in reality, huge stalactites. It is impossible for me to convey any idea of the overpowering beauty and grandeur of these pillars of white spar, some of which were not less than twenty feet in diameter at the base, and sprang up in lofty and yet delicate beauty sheer to the distant roof. Others again were in process of formation. On the rock floor there was in these cases what looked, Sir Henry said, exactly like a broken column in an old Grecian temple, whilst high above, depending from the roof, the point of a huge icicle could be dimly seen.
Hundreds of large bats are roused as you enter the chamber, zipping amongst and brushing against the expedition members until finally flying out of the tunnel in a roar. Some bearers may freak out and retreat outside. Roll d6 for each bearer. On 5 or 6 that bearer leaves the cave. If a Zoologist is present, bearer leaves on 6 only. These bearers do not desert, but just remain outside until the rest of the expedition returns.
At the back of the chamber is square doorway, like in Egyptian temples, opening into a narrow passage. It leads to a dim rectangular chamber with a massive stone table running down its length, a colossal white skeleton-like figure at its head, and life-sized white stone figures all round it. Water drips from the ceiling in various places.
Roll d6 for each askari. On 5 or 6 that askari leaves the cave. If a Missionary is present, askari leave on 6 only. These askari do not desert, but just remain outside until the rest of the expedition returns.
It was a ghastly sight. There at the end of the long stone table, holding in his skeleton fingers a great white spear, sat Death himself, shaped in the form of a colossal human skeleton, fifteen feet or more in height. High above his head he held the spear, as though in the act to strike; one bony hand rested on the stone table before him, in the position a man assumes on rising from his seat, whilst his frame was bent forward so that the vertebræ of the neck and the grinning, gleaming skull projected towards us, and fixed its hollow eye-places upon us, the jaws a little open, as though it were about to speak.
Death will attack unless Evil Prayers are uttered. GAGOOL knows the prayers and will recite them. An Ethnologist can also utter them by reading the strange markings on the edge of the table.
If an Ethnologist or GAGOOL is present, then Death won’t attack. Otherwise, Death attacks. Roll on the Native Attack Table: Charge in the rulebook. Treat Death as a Medium Tribe for determining the result of combat. Interpret the results as such:
H = Death retreats to Hell in a volley of musket fire.
W = Death destroyed, but go to Results of Victory table A to determine how many askari or bearers are killed. Then determine how much treasure is found: 3d6 x $10. A Bearer or Askari immediately takes the treasure out of the mine.
D = Roll on Consequences of Defeat table to determine how many members survive. Ignore any reference to muskets and rations. Then choose to fight again or leave mine, unless you are captured. When captured, Death places you under a steady drip of water and you cannot escape. In 3d6 decades, you will become completely encased in white stone like a stalagmite.
If Death retreats or is destroyed, you can now search for secret door. If a Geologist or GAGOOL is present, then the secret door is found automatically. Otherwise, it is found on a d6 roll of 1-5.
…we perceived that a mass of stone was rising slowly from the floor and vanishing into the rock above, where doubtless there is a cavity prepared to receive it. The mass was of the width of a good-sized door, about ten feet high and not less than five feet thick. It must have weighed at least twenty or thirty tons, and was clearly moved upon some simple balance principle of counter-weights, probably the same as that by which the opening and shutting of an ordinary modern window is arranged. How the principle was set in motion, of course none of us saw; Gagool was careful to avoid this; but I have little doubt that there was some very simple lever, which was moved ever so little by pressure at a secret spot, thereby throwing additional weight on to the hidden counter-balances, and causing the monolith to be lifted from the ground.
Behind an elaborately painted wooden door is a chamber stacked with elephant ivory and wooden boxes of gold coins with Hebrew characters on them. At the back of the chamber is an alcove with three stone chests full of diamonds.
If Geologist or Explorer is present, then a trap is detected. Roll d6. (Receive a +2 bonus if trap is detected.) The trap is triggered on 1-5, closing the stone door from which the chamber was entered.
Roll d6 again. On a roll of 1-3, that many members escape (without any treasure) before the door closes completely. If GAGOOL is present, then GAGOOL is a traitor, kills a member of the expedition, and is crushed by the door while trying to escape.
By now we are running down the passage, and this is what the light from the lamp shows us. The door of the rock is closing down slowly; it is not three feet from the floor. Near it struggle Foulata and Gagool. The red blood of the former runs to her knee, but still the brave girl holds the old witch, who fights like a wild cat. Ah! she is free! Foulata falls, and Gagool throws herself on the ground, to twist like a snake through the crack of the closing stone. She is under—ah! god! too late! too late! The stone nips her, and she yells in agony. Down, down it comes, all the thirty tons of it, slowly pressing her old body against the rock below. Shriek upon shriek, such as we have never heard, then a long sickening crunch, and the door was shut just as, rushing down the passage, we hurled ourselves against it.
After some searching in the sealed treasure chamber, a passage is found underneath a floor slab of stone. Fifteen stairs lead down into a labyrinth.
When we had groped our way for about a quarter of an hour along the passage, suddenly it took a sharp turn, or else was bisected by another, which we followed, only in course of time to be led into a third. And so it went on for some hours. We seemed to be in a stone labyrinth that led nowhere. What all these passages are, of course I cannot say, but we thought that they must be the ancient workings of a mine, of which the various shafts and adits travelled hither and thither as the ore led them. This is the only way in which we could account for such a multitude of galleries.
One bearer takes a wrong turn and is forever lost in labyrinth. One askari is swept away to his death when he stumbles into an underground river. Eventually, a way is found and the expedition emerges outside. Now tally how much treasure is plundered:
A parcel of treasure is worth $500 and has a weight of 5. Each bearer that escaped from the treasure chamber with the explorer has carried two treasure parcels out of the mine. The explorer and each askari and guide has carried out one treasure parcel each. The mines cannot be re-entered.
An amazing list of nearly all known books and movies related to Lost Races within the past 125 years or so, with special attention given to Haggard and Burroughs.